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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reinventing The Catholic Women’s College

Many of the country's most powerful women went to Trinity College outside of D.C., including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (AP)

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (left) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both attended Trinity Washington University. (AP)

What is it about the small, little-known Trinity Washington University outside of D.C.? Many of the country’s most powerful women went there, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The Catholic women’s college was founded in 1897 by a group of nuns dedicated to the education of women at a time when Catholic women who wanted to go to college faced two obstacles. First, sending young women to college was deeply controversial among Catholics. Second, Catholics, men and women, faced widespread prejudice at mainstream institutions.

Trinity quickly became the college of choice for daughters of prominent liberal Catholic families, but as American culture changed over the last two generations, it joined the long list of women’s colleges in sharp decline.

Pat McGuire, president (and alumna) of Trinity Washington University told Here & Now‘s Robin Young, that her college re-invented itself by returning to its radical mission, a college “for women who could not have access to higher education.”

Trinity’s student body is majority African American, with many students from under-served areas of Washington, DC.

This fall, Trinity is enrolling more than 1,000 women in its historic women’s college – the largest enrollment in Trinity’s history. Overall enrollment is at an all-time high of more than 2,600 students.


  • Pat McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University and graduate of the class of 1974

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  • J Frog

    I was lucky enough to get 12 years of Catholic education. For much of it…no gymnasium, no cafeteria, no frills. Just a solid foundation with some common sense discipline. I felt the wonderful nuns, priests and lay teachers prepared us well for the next steps along the way.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    “Forte,” having come from the French language, is pronounced “fort.”  The “e” is silent.  The word refers to the stronger part of a rapier near the hilt, while the foible is the weaker tip end.

  • Harry

    Driving home from work earlier I listened to this story and heard the name Nancy Pelosi.
    I almost had to stop my car and vomit.
    What a worthless piece of work from a mob family that started out in New Jersey.

    This from the woman who back in March of 2010 announced that the Obama health care bill should be voted by all in Congress first, then they can read the details of the 1,000+ pages later.
    What a brilliant politician. One of many that needs to be ousted.

    • Jean

      Quit making stuff up. 
      She’s from a Baltimore political family. 

      • Ed

        I can see you are the bright one here Jean.  Its known she is from a Baltimore political family.
        Anyone can go to Wikipedia for that info.
        However, have you done any further research into the matter or are you too lazy or even too ignorant to look further into this issue on the Internet?

        Consider what Walter Lippmann, the dean of American newspapers stated:   “When all think alike, no one thinks very much.”

        Jean, you are one of those sheeples Mr. Lippman spoke about 75 yeares ago.

        • Jean

          I used Wikipedia because it was a quick look up for the reader. They could find the same by asking Cokie Roberts but that would be difficult. I someone is going to accuse one’s parent’s of being criminals they should be prepared to support it.

  • Thanks!!

    The article was on the accomplishments of the College and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.  It’s unfortunate that the clash of political views between Trinity College graduates and listeners have overshadowed these accomplishments. 

    I was fortunate to have attended a school run by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur a very long time ago.  After listening to the interview, I have a new perspective of where my values were formed.  Thanks!  and thank you to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.  

  • Nelsonclare

    For clarification, is Trinity Washington University a Catholic university?  I thought it was, based on its founders and their great work; but something said during the interview with its President, together with a scan of its foundational documents raised the question in my mind.  Thanks.  

  • Alfred

    “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful”. Seneca the Younger, philosopher, statesman and orator

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